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A father of Confederation, supporter of Queen's

The bicentennial of Sir John A. Macdonald’s birth takes place this weekend, offering Canadians an opportunity to reflect on the accomplishments of the country’s first prime minister.

[Sir John A Macdonald]
Sir John A. Macdonald attended a meeting in 1839 where the founding trustees of Queen’s discussed the establishment of a college in Kingston. He moved or seconded several motions in favour of establishing Queen's.

Best remembered as an architect of Confederation, Kingston’s favourite son supported a college in his hometown.  

“Even though Sir John A. Macdonald didn’t play an instrumental role in the founding of Queen’s College, he demonstrated a keen interest in the institution throughout his career,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “Macdonald remains a complex historical figure whose contributions to Canada elicit both admiration and criticism. However, his dedication to public service stands as one of his most impressive accomplishments and serves as an example for Canadians today.”

Macdonald attended a meeting in 1839 where the founding trustees of Queen’s discussed the establishment of a college in Kingston. Twenty-four-years-old at the time, Macdonald moved or seconded several motions in favour of establishing Queen’s.

Even though he never held an official position at Queen’s, Macdonald did provide legal advice in the early days. According to the official history of Queen’s, Macdonald hosted in 1854 one of the initial meetings between college trustees and two doctors who were interested in establishing a medical faculty.

Queen’s Faculty of Law awarded its first honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Macdonald in 1863, and the law building bears the name of Canada’s first prime minister. Throughout his career, Macdonald made several donations to Queen’s libraries.

As part of the Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial, Queen’s will welcome Rt. Hon. Tricia Marwick, the Presiding Office of the Scottish Parliament, to campus this weekend. Mrs. Marwick will also attend city-hosted events throughout the weekend in celebration of the bicentennial.

Mrs. Marwick, the first woman to hold the post of Presiding Officer of Scottish Parliament, will speak on campus on Friday in a conversation about “Young Women in Politics.” She will then give the Principal’s Distinguished Visitor Lecture at the Principal’s Forum on Saturday on “Scotland’s Constitutional Journey.”

Friday’s event begins at 2:30 pm in Wallace Hall (John Deutsch University Centre). The next day, the Principal’s Forum will get underway at 2:30 pm in Grant Hall.